Whether he will forever be remembered as A.C. Slater from “Saved by the Bell,” hunky Dr. Christian Ramirez from “The Bold and the Beautiful,” or the runner up in Season 3 of “Dancing with the Stars,” Mario Lopez can always say he’s tried everything at least once.
Currently, the San Diego-born actor hosts the entertainment news show “Extra” on NBC. Last year he made his Broadway debut in the revival of “A Chorus Line.” Lopez, 35, is also promoting a new book he and his sister Marissa wrote titled “Mud Tacos.”
I read that you were recently given Cosmo’s Fun Fearless Award, which is described as an award for “bold career choices.” Do you consider what you’ve done in the last year or so on Broadway and with “Extra” “bold moves?”
Yes. I mean I’ve always wanted to just kind of be as diverse as possible and want to make bold choices, so whether it’s being on Broadway or hosting a show or acting on “Nip/Tuck” or writing a book, I’ve always wanted to just kind of do it all, have fun and be fearless. That was really nice that Cosmo gave me that honor. It was a great group of guys that I was lumped in with. I felt very privileged.
The way people want their news and information seems to be changing with the fall out of a lot of newspapers around the country. Do you think we’re going to see more news organizations go the way of shows like “Extra” and liven up their programs to get the public interested again in what’s going on in the world?
I don’t know if it’s ironic or not, but it seems like the tougher the times are and with the economic climate being what it is people want some sort of escapism. They turn to shows like ours to give them that, even if it helps them not think of their problems for a little bit. We try to provide a little entertainment and maybe they can focus on the celebrities’ problems. That always makes you feel better. It’s not [always] about problems. We showcase a lot of people doing great things. We want to have a lot of fun and entertain you. I also think because of the internet and blogging and what have you, the newspaper, unfortunately, is not as strong as it once was and is sort of dying out.
Other than the show itself, how does “Extra” reach out to the masses?
We try to combine a lot of stuff, as far as like creating our social network presence with ExtraTV.com and we’re big on our MySpace page, but even more than that right now, I’ve been doing a lot of Twittering. We’ve got a big Twitter deal going on. I personally got involved and I’m like Fred Flinstone. I’m not a very active guy with computers, but I’m having fun. I’m about to Twitter that I’m talking to you. I’ll Twitter that right now as I’m talking to you.
I know that celebrities are kind of their own brand. Whatever they star in gives the public a representation of the person they are. Have you ever turned down any work because you felt like it would hinder the Mario Lopez image?
Yes, all of the time. Stuff that’s just either kind of shady or racy or a little too provocative. That’s definitely not what I’m about, but maybe it’s not in good taste or I was questioning whether there was going to be good taste on either shows or events and what have you. I’m very aware of what I want to represent and who I am. I’m not at the point where I have to take everything just to survive. Nevertheless, even when I was at that point I still was very conscious of who I am and what I wanted to put out there as my brand, per se.
Tell us about your new book, “Mud Tacos.”
Yes my sister Marisa and I [wrote it]. It’s a children’s book. It’s going to be coming out hopefully by September. It’s focusing on a [bond between a] brother and sister. It’s in the “Dora the Explorer”-type of vein. Basically, when [my sister and I] were growing up, [both] my parents worked, so we were dropped off at my nana’s house. She took care of us and she didn’t let us play in the house. We always could smell when she was cooking and so we pretended like we were cooking outside. We had little games and we’d make little mud tacos. The tortillas were leaves and the mud was the meat and worms were the cheese. The flower petals were tomatoes. We basically wanted to…encourage kids to use their imagination.